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Readers' Comments on "THE LION FROM CHAMDO"
Dipping mercury combined with occasional rain added a layer of physical discomfort to the numbness triggered by Pala’s abrupt death on Christmas Day. Amala, disconcertingly calm and collected, worried about the forecast for December 28th. Her worries proved unfounded as Clement Town...
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8 comment(s) found You are on page 1 of 1

Location: Dehradun
Subject: A Nostalgic Remembrance
Mar 27 2013 11:05 PM

Dear Youdon la,

I couldn't help feeling nostalgic of my long association with your late father as I read your tribute which he richly deserves. What you wrote about his early life was unknown to me as he never spoke to me on it. My last meeting with him was five days before his demise, whatever short interactions we had then also dominated on issues that concerned our common community interest.
Despite not having received modern education, he never lagged behind in anything and was always comfortable interacting on any subject. He represented a rare personality who always seemed having some kind of answer to any problem, inspiring hope and positivity which made people feel light and lively to move forward objectively.

In short, his being there or not there will always make a difference particularly to his friends and people who even remotely associated with him.

Location: Australia
Subject: Homage to a true son of Tibet
Mar 13 2013 08:42 AM

Thanks for sharing an inspiring story of the man who gave his whole life for Tibetan nation with full spirit and heart.

Bod gyalo

Location: NYC
Subject: Thank you!
Mar 10 2013 08:51 PM

Dear Youdon la,

My most humble condolence to you and your family!

Thank you very much for sharing with all of us the work of your father - Jampa Kalden la. It is simply amazing the number of different roles he played in his life to serve Tibet.

Jampa la is truly an inspiration to all of us.

Kind Regards,


Location: Toronto
Subject: India's Phatom Army
Mar 10 2013 02:05 AM

Claude Arpislidebyline_location
Dapon Ratuk Ngawang was one of the senior leaders of the Voluntary Freedom Fighter Force in Tibet, a Tibetan guerrilla outfit which fought Chinese rule and played a key role in the Dalai Lama's escape to India in March 1959.
After the 1962 Sino-Indian border war, Ratuk Ngawang commanded the Tibetan secret regiment, known as the Special Frontier Forces, SSF, or Establishment 22, based near Dehra Dun in Uttar Pradesh.
Now 84, Ratuk Ngawag lives in the Tibetan colony of Majnu Ka Tilla in Delhi. He recently published his memoirs (in Tibetan) in which he recounts his early life in Kham province of Eastern Tibet and the escape to India as well as the Tibetan participation in the 1971 operations.
In an exclusive interview, he tells Claude Arpi about the SSF's role during the Bangladesh Liberation War.
In 1971, Ratuk Ngawang was a 'Dapon', often translated as 'Brigadier'; they were also known as 'Political Leaders.'
One of the aspects of the 1971 War which has never been publicised is the participation of Tibetan troops in the operations.
The official history of the war mentions all the victorious battles, but the Tibetan regiment is not mentioned. Today we have no document proving the Tibetan soldiers' participation.
We would be interested to hear from you more about the Tibetan Forces' role in the Bangladesh operations. We are also curious to find out about the directives (if any) from the Central Tibetan Administration (the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile) towards the Tibetan soldiers?
I have covered all these issues in my memoirs (published in Tibetan by the Amnye Machen Institute, Dharamsala). The Tibetan Regiment known as Special Frontier Forces or Establishment 22 has never officially been under the Indian Army.
It was established in 1962, after the Indo-China War. The main objective of the regiment was to fight the Chinese army with the help of the Indian Army.
At the time of the creation of the Force, we thought that the operations could be based at Lhuntse Dzong in Tibet (near the Indian border).
The plan was to engage the Chinese army in a military conflict within 5, 6 months of the Force's creation. But the Indo-China war came to an abrupt end (on November 22), and due to severe international pressure to maintain peace, no further military engagements occurred with China.
Therefore, the services of Establishment 22 regiment were not used as planned.
Tell us more about Establishment 22.
The Chinese took over Tibet in 1959. In 1960, the Government of India established a Force known as the Indo-Tibetan Border Force. Tibetan Establishment 22 was established in November 1962.
Who ordered the SFF to take part in the war?
A senior Indian Army officer, Major General Sujan Singh Uban (The SSF became known as 'Establishment 22' or simply 'Two-twos' because General Uban earlier served as commander of the 22 Mountain Brigade). At that time, he was the commander of the Tibetan Force.
A special army meeting was held in New Delhi; later we heard that General Uban had volunteered to lead the Establishment 22 regiment in the Bangladesh war.
It was S S Uban and my colleague Dapon Jampa Kalden who voluntarily decided to take part in the war.
Later they told me about their plans. First, I refused to join them, because to voluntarily go to war was for me 'illegal.' I told them that only if we got an order from the Government of India or from the Central Tibetan Administration, could we join the operation.
Moreover, I told them that Establishment 22 had not been created to fight 'for India'; rather it was established with the sole aim to fight the Chinese.
In fact, it is the reason why we get less salary as compared to Indian soldiers. We are not part of the regular Indian Army.
When the regiment was established, there was a mutual agreement that we would fight the Chinese. This did not happen.
However, I told General Uban and Dapon Jampa Kalden that if we were to get a formal order from the Indian government then we could join the operations.

Did Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's elder brother, give the directives to the Tibetan soldiers to join the Bangladesh war or was it someone else?
The directive came from the department of security of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala.
The department had called us for a meeting. They told us that there was no alternative but to go to war 'for India.'
Moreover, they told us that the Indian government was in a very critical situation at that time and our participation in the war could help save a lot of Indian lives.
Did you have any contact with R N Kao who was responsible for external intelligence in the Cabinet secretariat?
Yes. R N Kao was a high level officer of the Indian government and Indira Gandhi's close associate. But our commander was General S S Uban. He had visited New Delhi and also informed the Central Tibetan Administration about his plans to lead the SFF in the Bangladesh war.
After he came back to our base (in Uttar Pradesh), he sent Jampa Kalden and me to meet officials of the Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamsala.
We told the administration about our initial reluctance to join the war. But since the Central Tibetan Administration had already decided about sending Establishment 22 to the war, we would go for it.
Was R N Kao involved in the decision?
R N Kao was a high level official and not a military man. So he was not directly involved in the operations. But he instructed us and advised us to prepare ourselves and fight well.
Was Mr Kao giving orders to General Uban?
General Uban was a military officer. R N Kao was a high ranking official, therefore he had greater authority.
When we captured Chittagong, R N Kao came to visit Establishment 22 and gave awards and speeches in praise of the Tibetan unit's heroic battles. R N Kao was a very patriotic person.
After the decision to participate in the operations was taken, Dapon Dhondup Gyatotsang (who lost his life during the 1971 operations), Dapon Pekar Thinley and myself divided the regiment into three units.
We decided that each one of us would lead one unit in the war.
Due to his age and despite his military experience, Dapon Jampa Kalden couldn't take part in the war. He remained the administrative link between the Indian government and Establishment 22.
Gyalo Thondup was the chief strategist of Dehra Dun's SFF, but he was not involved in the decision to send Tibetan soldiers to the Bangladesh war.
When the Tibetan refugees first came to India, the Indian government had categorically urged the Tibetans not to participate in any political activities.
Much before the Bangladesh war, Gyalo Thondup and Andrug Gonpo Tashi (the founder of the Tibetan Volunteer Force in Tibet) had already resigned from their military posts

'We joined the '71 war in the hope that Indian Army will help us fight the Chinese one day'
Last updated on: January 10, 2012 21:08 IST

How many Mukti Bahini were trained at Uttar Pradesh by General Uban?
After Sheikh Mujibur Rahman was imprisoned in West Pakistan, more than 1,000 of his supporters escaped to India. Many of them were stationed near by the SSF camp.
We trained them in military combat. They were known as the Mukti Bahini.
Some of them were related to Mujibur Rahman. They later acted as our guides and contact persons during the war though they did not actually fight with us.
Though it was us who fought the real war and suffered the casualties, all the credit has later been given to the Mukti Bahini (because the Tibetan Force was involved under the guise of the Mukti Bahini).
Were the Mukti Bahini also under the command of General Uban?
Yes. General Uban provided the training to the Mukti Bahini.
When did you and the other two Dapons reach Bangladesh?
It was in November 1971. I was 39 years old at that time.
Did you go to Bangladesh before the beginning of the war or during the war?
We went before the Bangladesh war started. Though we were meant to fight the Chinese in a guerrilla warfare, during the Bangladesh war, our main enemy was the Mizo insurgents.
Just as the Tibetans were trained by the Indian Army, the Mizo soldiers were trained by Pakistan.
When and how did you go?
We went from the base of Establishment 22 in Uttar Pradesh to Dum Dum airport (Kolkata) by plane. From Dum Dum we went to Demagiri in Mizoram by motor vehicles. It took us three days.
After reaching the Bangladesh border (the Chittagong Hill Tracks), we had a meeting and went straight into the battle.
We left for the war on November 12 and fought for 28 days after which we came out victorious.
Many soldiers from the Pakistani side were killed and many surrendered.
What was General Uban's military objective in the war?
We were thoroughly trained in commando warfare to fight the Chinese; we were requested to use these skills to fight in the Bangladesh war.
The Indian authorities had assured us that the Indian Army would fight with the Tibetans for the cause of Tibet. Their reasoning was that the Tibetan soldiers alone could not defeat the Chinese army.
That's why we decided to join the Bangladesh war. It was in the hope that the Indian Army will help us militarily one day to fight the Chinese.
Please click Next to read further...

Image: Formation of the Mukti Bahini

Location: Cairo
Subject: A good tribute
Mar 09 2013 06:53 AM

A well-written tribute!
Youdon Aukatsang-la, consider bringing out a posthumus biographical book? Already, in the piece you presented here there is enough for a booklet, with photographs to augment the pages.

Not much materials have been out in the open thus far on the Establishment 22 and more so on the great contributions it made in that war. A book on that subject alone, or, a long chapter, would do splendid to document an important part of recent exile history, especially when the source would be a first-hand account from a member of the late Pala, a key-player in the event at the highest level.


Location: Madison
Subject: Moving story
Mar 09 2013 03:30 AM

It is a moving tribute to late Jampa Kalden which is beautifully told.
Two things need to be corrected.
1. The great mendicant and Geshe Jampa Thaye's name should be written with a T and not D. He is well known as Chamdo Geshe Jampa Thaye.

2. HH Dalai Lama's 1961 statement did not call for the monasteries and aristocratic families to abandon land ownership. By that time everyone was a
refugee living on meager rations let alone owning land. Besides many of the Tibetans who fled their homeland in 1959 did not even have a chance to bring their own drinking wooden tea bowl. Nonthless it is a great story.

Location: np
Subject: Reminds me of ma Abha
Mar 08 2013 01:57 PM

Your article reminded me of Abha and his struggle during 59's uprising. My dad fondly remembers the harsh trip that he had to take during the 59's and left to india with the gun given from Potala Palace along with the few others monks( he was monk of sera) of Sera Monastery. The chakpori hill incident and his enlisment in 22 army all are same as that of ma Abha as a gyapon(leader of 100 soldiers). After his discharge from Army he earned his livelihood as a small bussiness man taking trip to Tibet time and again and occasionally meeting his siblings.
He passed away 2 years back in a cold winter morning.I miss him a lot.

Location: Toronto
Subject: Truely a lion from Chamdo.
Mar 08 2013 07:01 AM

My uncle Migmar was in ESTD 22 a special frontier force in Chakrata, and from him I often hear of name Jampa Kalden, and he praises on his determined hardwork and efficiency in his leadership quality. It was the Tibetan army ESTD 22 which won the most strategic points in Bangladesh, they fought bravely and freed Bangladesh. This story of Jampa Kalden truly reveals his life's hardships and determined service for the cause of Tibet, Jampa Kalden should be remembered in the history of Tibet forever.
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